The videogame industry has become a truly
global phenomenon. And among the great global developers are four Australian
mobile game developers that deserve recognition.
It’s a great time to be among Australian mobile game developers. There’s been a renaissance in the Aussie gaming scene, with studios like Firemonkeys and Team Cherry creating titles with global audiences that number in the millions.
GadgetGuy asked guest Gadgeteer, author of Wicked Games and gaming commentator Arjun Krishna Lal to pen a few words on the top Australian mobile game developers.
Australia hasn’t missed out on the mobile game developers action
We’ve seen big name titles popping out from
places you’d never expect: The Witcher franchise is Poland’s best-known export,
and Metro Exodus does a better impression Russia than any Fox News special ever
could. A lot of this growth is on mobile, and top mobile developers around the
world regularly release titles with hundreds of millions of downloads.
We are looking at the top four Australian mobile game developers, highlighting prominent, home-grown mobile studios that have made it big internationally.
If you have time, click on the links to the
gaming studios to see their other work. Quality games are being developed in
all kinds of places, by all kinds of people.
If you’ve ever played Real Racing 3 or Need
for Speed: No Limits on your Android phone or iDevice, you’ve seen Firemonkey’s
Since its launch in 2013, Real Racing 3 has
been a runaway success in the mobile space. The Free-to-play racer has visuals well
advanced for the time. Apple featured the game in their iPhone 6S reveal as a
showcase for its A9 chip’s graphical prowess.
The Melbourne-based developer is a merger
between two homegrown development teams that were acquired by Electronic Arts:
Firemint and IronMonkeys.
Firemint is the creator of the Real Racing franchise.
2010s critically-acclaimed Real Racing 2 put them in the spotlight and caught
EA’s attention that acquired them a few months after Real Racing 2’s launch in
IronMonkeys was acquired by EA a year
earlier. Before the merger, they developed mobile spinoffs for EA-licensed
franchises such as Dead Space and Mass Effect. Their take on Dead Space was well-received
incorporating almost all of Dead Space’s signature gameplay features. But 2011
is eons ago, and Dead Space was one of the first true console-quality
experiences on mobile.
After the Firemint-IronMonkeys merger, the
combined team worked on Real Racing 3 and, later, 2015’s Need for Speed: No
Limits. With over 250 million downloads these two games have kept Firemonkeys
busy—they now employ over 170 staff in their Melbourne office.
You can find out more about Real Racing 3 on Firemonkey’s website here.
Melbourne-based Mountains describes itself
as a “craft games studio.
If this reminds you of artisanal beer and dimly
lit corner booths, it’s for a good reason: Mountains’ debut game, Florence, isn’t
a quick, free-to-play cash-grab.
It’s a surprisingly deep, interactive
meditation on many of the daily issues we have in mind. Using simple
touch-based minigames as a point of physical connection, Florence tells a
moving tale that deals with love and loss, race, and growing up, all packed
into an incredibly intense 45-minute experience. Whatever your taste in games,
this is one we suggest you don’t miss out on.
Read more about the Mountains team on their homepage, here.
3) Halfbrick Studios
This might be hard to believe, but there’s
actually an Australian export with more fans than Vegemite: Fruit Ninja.
Wait. What? That’s what we thought, too at
first. But the iconic pineapple-slasher was Brisbane-based Halfbrick Studio’s
breakout mobile title. With over 1 billion downloads, Fruit Ninja’s easily the
biggest thing that ever happened to the Australian videogame industry. The game
was so successful that Halfbrick was inducted into the Queensland Business
Leaders Hall of Fame in 2017.
Halfbrick has gone on to develop Jetpack
Joyride, Dan the Man, and a whole host of Fruit Ninja spinoffs for various
platforms. The studio’s been around since 2002 and had moderate success
developing licensed titles like Avatar: The Last Airbender and Star Wars:
Republic Heroes. But the huge success of Fruit Ninja has overshadowed just
about everything else.
Melbourne-based Playside Studios is one of
those mid-sized mobile developers that just generally flies under the radar.
Their biggest hit, Dumb Ways to Die 2, netted
over 75 million downloads. Building on that success, they’ve developed over 30
mobile titles over the past seven years. In addition to their IP, they’ve
collaborated with the likes of Nickelodeon and Pixar on several licensed mobile
spinoffs. While few of their games have had Dumb Ways to Die 2’s runaway
success, nearly all of Playside’s titles netted over 100,000 downloads. Not too,